Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Among the hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Luke Garner lives a relatively free life on his family's farm, relatively free until the men come with their machines and start cutting down to the trees to build houses - the moment the men arrive Luke is told to stay inside and stay hidden.  Luke is an illegal third child, he was born into a world where you are allowed two children only, any more children than two and you risk coming to the attention of the dreaded Population Police.  Suddenly Luke is no longer allowed to spend any time outside, even at night, and his movements in the house become severely restricted because he can only come into a room if the shades are all drawn.  To make matters worse his mother has to go to work just so the family can survive, so Luke is left all alone everyday - it didn't matter before, but now he has to stay inside and there is only so much he can do indoors before he gets bored and restless.  

Then one day Luke notices a face at the window of one of the new houses, a face where Luke knows the parents and two sons are already gone, a face that gives him hope that he is not alone.  When he finally gets up the courage to cross the distance between their houses he meets Jen, another shadow child just like him, a child that should not exist.  Luke is almost too startled to think about anything beyond the fact he is not alone, but then Jen starts telling him about what is wrong with the population laws and how she plans to fix them.  Luke is in over his head, and he is going to have to make some choices that will have consequences he can't even imagine - and most of all, because of Jen his life will change forever.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is one of my favourite authors - not only because I love her books, but also because she writes amazing stories full of action, drama, and strong storylines that hook you from the beginning and refuse to let you go until the story ends.  I first read Among the hidden many years ago, possibly even when it was first released in the late 1990's and I have read more books in the series but not quite keeping up to date, but with the release of the last book in the series (Among the free) I decided it was time to pick up the series from the beginning and read the series through from start to finish.  

Among the hidden was just as amazing as I remembered, it is not a deeply detailed book with a heavy weight of description and tangled subplots, it is instead a straightforward story told with sparing prose that keeps you focused on the heart of the story - the characters.  Luke is a sheltered child who is loved by his family and can not understand why his life has to be restricted, and Jen is a privileged child who can not see why things can not be changed and why she should remain silent when she sees an injustice.  The ending is just as dramatic and heart wrenching as I remembered, and I jumped straight into the second book in the series (something I couldn't do when I first read the book) and have only a few pages to go before I can leap straight into book three.  

Haddix is an amazing author for a lot of reasons, but one of the best reasons is that her books are carefully written to include the maximum story impact without the use of overly descriptive language or lots of heavy prose.  When I come across teenagers who are struggling with reading (either due to ability or interest) I often recommend Haddix because her characters drive her stories and her action, not the size of the novel or the big words.  Haddix also writes in a number of styles and genres, although she has a particular knack for writing edge of your seat adventures with a dash or dollop of science fiction.  There is plenty to like about Haddix and her writing, and there are loads of stories to enjoy if you like her writing style.

If you like this book then try:

  • Among the imposters by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Among the betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Among the barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Among the brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Among the enemy by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Among the free by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
  • Don't turn around by Michelle Gagnon
  • The rules by Stacey Kade

Reviewed by Brilla

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